Kashmir valley on March 18, 2020, recorded its first positive case of the novel coronavirus. A resident of Khanyar in Srinagar who arrived by flight on the 16th of the month from a foreign country tested positive. From the same day, the authorities imposed strict restrictions over unnecessary movement of people. This was a time when Kashmir had entered a new political era post 5 August 2019 after the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A. Now, yet another challenge knocked and Kashmir was going to test its fate once more. No one, though, thought that what Kashmir was going to experience ahead was a deluge of deaths, distress, and mourning.
The same virus has now mutated and become harder to detect and control. Kashmir valley has been swept by the 2nd wave of Covid. In a conservative society like Kashmir, people still believe in superstitions and magic rather than logic. Here people prefer saints (pir sahabs) to medical doctors when confronted with any disease. In a society like this, where illogic dominates over logic, and where myths are considered as facts, rumours play an important role. The same has happened with Covid right from the first wave to the second. Usually, in a national emergency or natural disaster, people coordinate and make a strong and constructive bond, but here in Kashmir people play the fool. People choose their own way and thereby mislead their own self. They consider the deadly virus as a joke and openly violate norms which they are supposed to follow. In this way they lead to problems and suffering for all.
But as the engine is to the vehicle, the administration is to the state. From the beginning of the first wave of Covid to the end of the second wave, the administration here in the valley has not budged from absurd protocols. In the backdrop of the declining living standards of people and the crumbling economy of the state, the administration left non-Covid patients entirely to God’s mercy. In the first wave more non-Covid patients died in Kashmir than Covid patients. They either did not come out of their homes for treatment due to the fear of getting infected or were refused treatment at hospitals. The Doctors’ Association Kashmir (DAK) president, Dr Nisar ul Hassan, even issued a statement that we need to treat every patient, whether Covid or non-Covid, with the same seriousness. The government, however, from the beginning of the pandemic failed to provide general OPD as hospitals were designated entirely for Covid patients.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Government of India has recently issued a warning regarding the third wave of Covid-19. Accordingly, the government must ensure that logical and comprehensive strategies are in place, unlike during the first and second wave, to come to grips with a possible Covid third wave.
The writer is a student of BA LLB (5th semester) at the School of Law, University of Kashmir. [email protected]